How Physical or Occupational Therapy Can Help Runners

Running is a great sport enjoyed by millions of people each and everyday. While it’s a fun and healthy sport runners are also very prone to injury. At least 79% of all runners become injured at some point. In the vast majority of cases after sustaining an injury runners would greatly benefit from going to see a physical therapist or occupational therapist. Not only can a therapist help you once injured, but they are also a great place for runners to go to prevent injury, improve running technique and find the best pair of running shoes.


Common Running Injuries


Shin Splints- Is pain that is experienced on the front and outer portion of the shin. This pain can range from mild discomfort when working out to continuous discomfort even at rest. In runners this condition can be caused by trying to do too much without the proper build-up to that level of activity. Rapid speed or mileage increases during your run can be the cause of this condition. Shin splints can also be caused by poor or worn out footwear and uneven road surfaces.

Runner’s Knee (Patellofemoral pain syndrome)- Is when pain is felt around and underneath the kneecap. This pain triggers while going up or down the stairs, climbing up or down inclines, and during extended periods of sitting. This condition happens because of poor body mechanics with the main cause being running with an overstride. Undue stress is put on your upper leg or knee when you overstride, possibly leading to an injury. Overstriding is a running gait problem that happens when the runners foot lands too far ahead of the body.

Achilles Tendinitis- Is pain and inflammation in the Achilles tendon, that connects the heel to the lower leg muscles. Without prompt and proper treatment this condition can become chronic. Poor footwear, suddenly increasing running distance, or climbing lots of hills during your running routine can cause this condition. Some runners with very tight posterior muscles can be naturally prone to this condition.

Plantar Fasciitis- The plantar fascia, is a band of tissue that runs from the heel to the toes. When this tissue is inflamed it can cause pain in the heel or the bottom of the foot. This pain is most noticeable while walking or running. Flat feet, high arches, or improper footwear is the most common cause of this condition.

Stress Fracture- Is a condition when a runner sustains tiny breaks in their bones. These fractures usually occur in the lower leg bones and to runners that are under the age of 30. The cause of this condition is training too intensely, especially on hard roads and sidewalks. Because of the severity of this injury taking a break from running and resting is what is needed to heal.


Running Injury Prevention


A physical therapist or occupational therapist can evaluate the patient’s functional mobility and movement patterns. They then will work with the patient to correct any deficiencies. The therapist will be able to treat common running injuries as well as help with any other aches and pains.

Because runners are so prone to injury going to see a physical or occupational therapist to prevent an injury before it happens is a great idea. A therapist will evaluate the patient and see if their body is in proper alignment. Poor body alignment can result in unnecessary wear, tear, and injury to the body.

Over striding is a common problem for runners that can slow them down and cause future injuries. A physical or occupational therapist can give you a running gait analysis. This is when a therapist watches the patient run and the running stride and mechanics are all looked at. If they see a problem with the patients gait they will work with the patient to correct the problem.

Custom foot orthotics are another great preventative measure that most runners will benefit from. Only about 25% of runners have a normal running pattern when their foot properly absorbs the shock. Most runners overperonate or underpronate, this means that their foot turns too much or not enough at heel-strike. Custom foot orthotics can fix this problem and correct other imbalances in the foot. Orthotics can also help to alleviate knee, hip, and back pain.

If you are a runner suffering from injury or would like to prevent an injury make an appointment with IMPACT today! Our expert team of physical therapists and occupational therapists are ready to help you achieve your top running form.

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